Email June 29th 2006

Subject: Fish 2006 - Updates and the new Cunning Plan Part 1

Dear Fishheads, Freaks, Fans and the Company,

Please accept my apologies for having been totally removed from the ether for the last couple of months. I had a very stressful situation to deal with and in all honesty it affected the entire plan for the summer including the convention.
Shortly after returning from Egypt I developed a serious viral infection that wiped me out for over three weeks. At that point the April/May touring was in question as I was left with a serious ache in my lower left abdomen and testes. I was in constant pain and only heavy doses of anti-inflammatory enabled me to get it together in the week leading up to rehearsals. The ache became irregular and on tour I was able to get through the shows without too much hassle. On return I was sent to specialists and it's only in the last week or so after a major hospital examination that I was given the all clear on what could have been an extremely serious condition necessitating surgery which would have meant lying on my back for over 8 weeks. Needless to say my head was frying during this time and I was banned from reading the 'Readers Digest Family Medical Advisor'.
I still have a couple of tests to undergo but the potential illnesses indicated by the symptoms have nearly all been eliminated leaving the main culprit looking like a very heavy viral attack which could have been picked up in Egypt. I am feeling a lot healthier in body, mind and spirit and the sense of relief is palpable.

I wasn't capable of much positive communication during this time and the frustration was immense both for me and for Yatta who was trying to organise touring despite the possibilities of having the dates blown at the last moment if the scans had come back with bad news.
And so I emerge from the other side and can provide you with some news and other pieces of information that amassed over the period I was 'away'!

Dave Innes had joined the band as replacement drummer for the last tour. The position was not permanent and although Dave did an admirable job filling in for John Tonks I felt that he wasn't the right guy for us as I move into the next album project.
Last Friday Steve Vantsis, Frank Usher and I auditioned and confirmed Gavin John Griffiths as the new replacement and rehearsals start after I return from holiday in Malta on the 16th July.
Gavin was the drummer with 'Karnataka' for a number of years and his combination of styles fit the new direction perfectly. He is our first ever Welsh band member and his baptism will be at the Lorelei gig on the 28th July.

More open airs have been added with Schollenpop, Scheveningen in Holland on the 5th of August and the Fat Tyre festival in Laax, Switzerland on Friday 11th. The 16th we fly to Mexico and return on the 20th for the run up to the Haddington weekend.
In amongst all that there are more rehearsals for the convention as the acoustic set is bringing some material out of the closet that either hasn't been played for a long time or is making its debut in the Church.
It's daunting indeed but if this works as well as I think it will there is a strong chance I may take this set out on the road in December for a limited run.

On other notes -

I was disappointed that Sat1 omitted my performance from the recent 'Hits Giganten' TV show. I had mimed a 7 minute or so version of 'Vigil' and can only think that it was edited out due to time constraints. I thought I sung pretty well :-)
On the other hand I was pleasantly surprised to see that the 'Weakest Link' was repeated on Saturday, the same night as 'The Jacket' premiered on Sky TV and that the 'Kayleigh' video was on heavy rotation on two music channels! Felt like I was in a big band :-)

My personalised mike stand arrived back at the farm after going "missing" in Erfurt, Germany on the last tour.
It had left the gig and was waiting to be put in the trailer when it was "moved" and then disappeared. As it's made out of titanium and has a 6ft 2" lip height it wasn't much use to anyone else unless they stood on a box which would be a bit of a give away :-) I have had this stand since my first solo tour and it replaced the one that was left with the Marillos in 88. It's an extremely difficult metal to cut and machine as my ex band discovered when they considered reducing my old stand for their new singer. I had it made as I was breaking so many of the traditional types of stands which have to be added to and adjusted to accommodate my height. I was gutted that I had to go back to using these again for the rest of the tour and as expected had more than a few "break downs" mid set. The local promoter traced it down and it miraculously reappeared two days later!
As it's been on every major tour since 89 it had become a bit of a talisman and I was glad to see it eventually come back home.

A couple of weeks ago I was at the David Gilmour gig at the Albert Hall as part of a working couple of days down South with my girlfriend Heather. The show was in two sets, the new solo album dominating the first and Floyd material taking up all the second set. I much preferred the second half and hearing 'Echoes' for the first time live was quite simply stunning. The irony of the night was not lost on me!
Next day I was with Heather in Birmingham as she was involved in a photo shoot with John Dietrich, a celebrity photographer. It had been decided to combine the day and we did a session together which should raise a few eyebrows when the pictures hit press in the next month or so. For a wee idea of John Dietrich's gallery check out his website gallery :-)
Heather's session was more straightforward for the cover of 'Ultra Fit' magazine due out in the next month or so.

Later that night Heather's press agent had organised an interview on Kerrang radio for the two of us as we were staying over in the city.
After the regulation curry we trundled into the station around 10pm to discover it wasn't all as straightforward as it appeared. The show's DJ, Tim Shaw was enjoying a "bad boy" reputation and was doing his best copy of NYC "shock jock" Howard Stern. All a bit predictable for those who know the real thing. The "guests" were two large breasted sex objects with disproportionate brains and a lust for self promotion. Attractive in an obvious way their principle business appeared to be with each other while the boyfriend of one who was present gazed on with steamy glasses. You get the picture!
I was given a place at the table but Heather was ignored and sat in the corner with other bystanders. I just wanted to leave. It had nothing to do with music and was more to do with ego and puerile behaviour that was so forced it was embarrassing. In our first "debate" I used the word "twat" which seemingly is one of the "naughty" words that raises flags and has blue rinse ladies in Cheltenham up in arms and writing to the radio authorities. Why anyone would be listening to this shit at near midnight on a weekday baffles me and anyone who was listening I am sure would either quickly choose to switch frequencies or wouldn't be at all offended by the word "twat"!
The DJ then made the mistake of trying to take the mick out of me and I of course responded with an off the cuff verbal kicking as was the response required. The show slid into drunken chaos and endless dribble interspersed with occasional music. Just to make sure that the barrel of bad taste and desperation was scraped clean the girls were offered to put on a lesbian show in the next room which was to be filmed for the show's website. They of course agreed and I was asked if I wanted to direct. Now I am no prude and am no stranger to some of the more bizarre aspects of human sexuality but this was as about as sexy as watching pigs in suspender belts and stockings hunt for truffles!
I jokingly turned to Heather and asked in a dry bored voice if it was ok. Heather not exactly enamoured with our host and forgetting for a moment that the mikes were on told us to "F##k off!". A quite understandable response and one that provoked studio outrage resulting in Heather being asked to leave the studio. They had just clipped the two allowed "naughty" word marker and another was going to mean a huge fine and possible questions about licensing. It was quite ok to discuss lesbian sex acts and work around pathetic sniggering innuendos but you can't use the "F" word on a rock radio show at midnight in the UK! Heather was ushered outside and I soon joined her after delivering my swift farewells to the studio floor. It was quite honestly one of the worst radio shows I have ever participated in and one I won't forget for a long time. The end result was that the show was fined and the DJ was suspended for two weeks. Not a great loss to music!

I was asked at the last minute if I wanted to return to the "Feast of Hope" in Geneva this year. With everything up in the air health wise I was cagy about going but decided that I really needed a break from the Studio and to spend some time with my daughter away from here. We arrived on the Friday for the Saturday show with nothing planned for stage. That night it was the traditional fondue experience with all the festival artists attending. By midnight I had arranged three slots for the following day! First up was with Mous and Hakim, the two main guys from French band "Zebda" which had broken up a few years before. Now essentially their solo project I had performed with them the last time I was at the "Feast of Hope" two years previously. We decided to repeat our success with a "jammed" number we call "Fishnomenal" that we put together which involves singing the lyric and melody to "Gentleman's Excuse Me" over a French folk song which is "tripped" up and has the French lyric rapped out!
It works great and we are again talking about trying to record it someday. The audience loved it on the night. The guys are great fun and after the show we pulled down a bunch of helium filled balloons and did a version of "Yellow Submarine" which has made it onto the official film footage of the event! Bit too much white wine me thinks! :-)
My next slot was a jump band put together from members of the Silencers and Little Bob's band (Bob Storey). We dived into a rattle down version of "Roadhouse Blues" before quitting the stage to let the Silencers take over. I came on with them later and did a version of "Sympathy for the Devil" and was joined on BV's by my daughter. Proud Dad! :-)
On that note I can tell you that my daughter Tara has now joined a band in Haddington and is singing lead vocal! Do they never learn :-)
I am banned from gigs just now and am being kept in the dark about what is going on at rehearsals.

Altogether the weekend was a huge success and a much needed tonic. I even managed to add to my collection of backstage art that always graces the festival "green area". I already have two papier-mache' penguins and two dogs from previous years but this time Tara and I excelled ourselves with a 2.3 metre tall alien mannequin! We managed to get it back by carrying the detachable arms, putting the head in the hand luggage and wrapping the torso in plastic sheets and checking it into the hold. Air France went up in my valuation and has total respect for managing to get it to Scotland via Paris! It scared the hell out of Elspeth when she arrived at the office on Monday!

I will get back on the ball again this week as Heather is away on writing sessions with Mostly Autumn and I can get a chance to catch you up with the other news including the plans for the new album and the remaining touring for this year.
Sorry I have been so quiet but after reading this I hope you understand where my head was.

until next time
take care and stay alive
Onkel Fish xx

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